Broadway on the Beach ~ 2018

An evening of show tunes and fun is planned for Grand Bend’s Rotary Stage on the Main Beach, July 4, 7:00 p.m., presented by Grand Bend’s own Thomas Alderson alongside three other top Canadian musical theatre performers.

Joining Thomas on stage will be Tess Benger, Lili Connor, and Lucas Meeuse.  All three entertainers have appeared with Alderson in the past and are popular with local audiences.  Most recently, Meeuse and Alderson took to the stage with two others when Grand Bend’s Rotary Club hosted a regional conference at Oakwood Resort in May.  Last summer, Benger appeared with Alderson on the beach and wowed the audience singing musical theatre favourites such as “Defying Gravity” from Wicked.  Connor joined Alderson two years ago at a fundraising concert at Huron Shores United Church where she sang songs from her role as Mama Cass in the popular The Mamas and the Papas’ musical Dream a Little Dream. 

Alderson grew up in the ’Bend and often appeared on stage at Huron Country Playhouse.  He was seen frequently on stage at Sarnia’s Imperial Theatre – both with Bluewater Musicals and Theatre Sarnia.  As a student at Northern Collegiate, he took part in the Sears Drama Festival.  He was later a student at H. B. Beal Secondary School in London in the musical theatre program, and appeared in four High School Project musicals at the Grand Theatre.  He is best known for his role as an Angel in the Mirvish musical, Kinky Boots, which ran in Toronto for a year.

Recently Alderson moved into directing, and has been Assistant Director of The Secret Garden at Theatre Calgary, Once at the Grand Theatre in London, and Saturday Night Fever in Toronto.  As well, he produced and directed the Canadian premier of Carrie: The Musical, based on the Stephen King novel.

Benger is best known for her lead role as Anne, the feisty redhead in Anne of Green Gables, at the Charlottetown Festival.  She appeared as Leisl in the 2013 production of The Sound of Music at Huron Country Playhouse, and recently played Sophie in Mamma Mia at Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre.  She spent three seasons with the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, appearing in the musicals Cabaret and Sweeney Todd, among others.

Lili Connor is one of the Jazzagals on CBC TV’s very popular show, Schitt’s Creek, and she has had guest appearances on TV’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Saving Hope and The Detail.  As well as her iconic role as Mama Cass, she is in the original cast and touring production of Sisters: The Belles Soeurs Musical.  In addition to TV and film, Connor has been on stage in theatres across Canada.

Lucas Meeuse is the host of the children’s show, The Space! on TVO Kids, handling the challenge of live TV on a daily basis.  He was Johnny Donnelly in Vigilante, the story of the Lucan family’s massacre, which was at London’s Grand Theatre, and toured across Canada.    As well, he was a regular performer on Royal Caribbean Cruise lines.

Broadway on the Beach is the first in the Grand Bend Beach concert series “Wednesdays’ Familiar Favourites”.  The West Coast Lions Club, with organizer Mary Alderson, is working to ensure greater use of the Rotary Stage.  The Municipality of Lambton Shores, NextEra Energy, Grand Bend Community Foundation, and Tourism Sarnia-Lambton are financially supporting the Concert Series.  In addition, several community-minded businesses are sponsors: Geo-Teck Heating & Cooling; Physiotherapy Alliance; Hair Bend’rs; akSence Café, Catering & Gift Boutique; T. Harry Hoffman & Sons Funeral Home; and Denny’s Drive-In.

On July 18, the concert is billed as The Crooner, The Vocalist, and The Big Band on the Rotary Stage.  Popular Grand Benders Michael Vanhevel and Theresa Wallis-Kneale will be on stage with the 17-piece Jimmy Stahl Big Band.  Concerts continue every other Wednesday evening all summer.

The West Coast Lions encourage everyone to come, and ask that you please pay what you can to help with the costs.  The Lions Club will have their popcorn cart on hand, with the freshly popped treat on sale.  “Bring your lawn chair and enjoy the beautiful Lake Huron sunset,” Alderson adds.  On Wednesdays, Beach Parking is free after 7:00 p.m. and Main Street Parking is free after 5:00 p.m.

Photo attached:  Thomas Alderson and Tess Benger on Grand Bend’s Rotary Stage, Summer 2017.

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